Mars Halloween Candy Pails!

I doubt that more than three of you remember them, but I don’t care. These candy pails, distributed by Mars back in ’89, meant the world to me. Even today, I look at them and see everything good about Halloween.

I can’t remember the specifics of the promotion, but it went something like this: Buy a bag of fun-sized Snickers (or Milky Way, or 3 Musketeers), and you’d go home with one of these glorious buckets. (In all likelihood, you had to buy three or more bags, but the details pale in importance to the end result: MONSTA BUCKETS.)

We’ve all reminisced about McDonald’s famous McBoo pails, and though they deserved every bit of our affections, these were an even cooler spin on the same idea. With pop-off lids and little ropey handles, kids trolled the neighborhood on Halloween night, stuffing their tricks and treats into eleven-inch plastic ghosts with Snickers stickers on them. Bottle that shit, because it was concentrated awesomesauce.

To the best of my recollection, I never went trick-or-treating with my Mars pails. I had all three – I remember that much distinctly – but I can only recall using them as bedroom décor, where they far outlasted their initial lots as mere “Halloween decorations.” I had these guys on display for years, filled with God knows what. Even after I’d lost their lids and scratched off their affiliated candy bar stickers, I still kept them out on my shelves, like they were something to be proud of.

Then again, maybe it isn’t so surprising that I never went trick-or-treating with ‘em. As a ten-year-old, I was free to be a kid, but there were some restrictions. Things construed as “toys” were still socially acceptable, but only if those toys were universally accepted by my peers. I remember plenty of kids bragging about their Ninja Turtles, but I never heard anyone flip over Tacky Stretchoid Warriors.

And I couldn’t have been the only one buying Tacky Stretchoid Warriors.

It was a fine line, and goofy Halloween monster pails definitely crossed it. I loved them, but I could only show that love in private. I hope my buckets never took it the wrong way. It wasn’t because they were ugly. God, they weren’t.

Below is a pail-by-pail introduction. Meet the buckets!

Pumpkin Bucket: If these pails had any corresponding TV commercial that might’ve helped me to identify them, I never saw it. But perhaps something so simple really didn’t need the press, since this is obviously a Pumpkin Bucket.

I take Pumpkin Bucket to be the leader of the trio. It can’t have anything to do with his totem candy, because I hate Milky Way bars. I think it’s just because he looks so sure of himself. He’s a pumpkin, he’s a bucket, he’s fine with it.

Besides, if we look at this historically, leaders were so often determined by a basic measure of physical strength. And Pumpkin Bucket’s hands look so much more muscular than Ghost or Goblin Bucket’s. You don’t get hands like that if you don’t train. Pumpkin Bucket is all smiles now, but don’t make him mad. Dude will Seismic Toss you into Christmas future.

Ghost Bucket: So few name Larry Fine as their favorite, but without him, there are no Stooges. Ghost Bucket is the Larry of this bunch. So easy to overlook, and yet, so integral.

Of course, Ghost Bucket only seems plain on a surface glance. Dig deeper, and his positive traits multiply into the dozens. Proving my point, I can only organize my thoughts on why Ghost Bucket rules by way of a bullet list:

* That screwy upward glance. One may argue that the other pails look vapid, but Ghost Bucket is an obvious thinker. He has a soul, and we’re seeing him use it.

* The mouth, which is clearly the gentle imprint of a child’s thumb. Let’s think about this. When plastic is going through the molding process, it’s very hot. Some dumb kid put his thumb into blazing hot plastic to form Ghost Bucket’s mouth. That child then died from his injuries, and in the sort of predestination paradox that made The Terminator such a sophisticated motion picture, saw his spirit reborn in the very same plastic ghost he’d just killed himself over.  That’s fucking GREAT.

* His candy affiliation. SNICKERS. One of the all-time best. Only Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Peanut M&M’s could even attempt a claim of superiority. If we’re judging these buckets on candy stickers alone, Ghost Bucket wins so hard.

* The protruded cheeks, which afford Ghost Bucket an unlikely air of innocence. He was a Casper for all of the people who refused to accept Casper, and let’s face it, most of us refused to accept Casper. I don’t know why.

I could go on, but even with these fine attributes, Ghost Bucket is not my favorite of the trio. I saved the best for last…

Goblin Bucket: This is it. This is the one! I may have owned all three pails, but Goblin Bucket is the one I’ll never, ever forget.

This guy became my surrogate pet for a while, though I treated him more like a friend. I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this, but if you reviewed everything I said aloud from October-December of 1989, at least 50% of those things were directed at Goblin Bucket. From simple greetings to late night confessions, never before had a hunk of green plastic been spoken to so often, and about so much.

It was perhaps in reverence to this friendship that I kept Goblin Bucket for so much longer than the other pails. Even during the nastiest, messiest, most rapid bedroom cleanup session to satisfy the growing rage of my parents, never once did it occur to me to chuck Goblin Bucket.

Discounting these personal attachments, I think we can all agree that Goblin Bucket is king. More of a goblin/lizard hybrid than an out-and-out goblin, he was just so attractively bizarre. Lumpy head, piggish snout, toes as long as pretzel rods. All things being equal, I should not have wasted the bullet list gimmick on Ghost Bucket.

Also, Goblin Bucket was the only pail with an interesting backside:

See? A tail. A really wicked tail, akin to Satan’s. That’s gorge. Not gorge like a “small canyon,” but gorge like the Urban Dictionary definition. Short for “gorgeous.” (Also “ass crack,” but the 2nd definition for every word over there has something to do with asses.)

Ah, these pails. As I mentioned, they mean nothing to most of you. Absolutely nothing. And that’s okay. You were deprived, but that’s okay. We all have our tokens of times long expired, and these are some of mine. Hollow monsters that once held my broken crayons and stray LEGO pieces. I loved them then, I loved them now.


41 Responses to Mars Halloween Candy Pails!

  1. GASP. I don’t remember when or where I got it but I had that pumpkin one! I had completely forgotten about it until now. That “holy shit” feeling is one of the reasons I love X-E/Dino Drac.

    That goblin one is pretty excellent.

  2. I still have the Snickers ghost, which we still use to hold candy on Halloween to this day :)

  3. I never owned one of these, but I totally remember seeing the Snickers Ghost when I was younger. It’s really a shame that stuff like this doesn’t really get made anymore. I know these days, I’d be tempted to grab one just for the cool packaging. Ah, the good ol’ days. Man oh man do I ever miss the ’80s…and even the early ’90s.

  4. I had Pumpkin Bucket too. I don’t remember if I ever used it to trick or treat, but I stored small toys in there. He was their house. :3

  5. A candy bucket that listens? Now thats what I call a friend for life!

  6. Ya know what? I like the ghost bucket best. Something about that tilted head makes me love him so.

  7. To those who are on the verge of remembering them, I know they were out in 1990, too. Can’t recall if they stalled the releases but I know I had all three, and am fairly certain I had all three at once.

  8. Also please disregard the weird extra spacing in the comments. Changed some other things and whatever I did caused that. Will fix.

  9. Nope, you weren’t the only one buying tacky stretchoid warriors. I had two of them….probably still have a mangled, dirty corpse of one laying around someplace in a box that has been forgotten someplace.

  10. I saw Caramel Apple Milky Way miniature candy bars last night. I can’t be sure but I think those are new this year?

  11. I would totally take those trick or treating this year.

  12. Hey, I still have the ghost!

    I also had Tacky Stretchoid Warriors. They were kind of crappy, they were always covered in dust bunnies, and their day-glo weapons would always get mixed into my Ninja Turtles toys.

    I have a fond memory of throwing the singular tan guy into the spinning blades of a ceiling fan, and having it launch behind a couch, where it disappeared for months

  13. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these before! Very cool, Matt! So, do you think McDonalds will have another set of McBoo pails this year?

  14. Yeah 10 years old and trick or treating with a cutesy Halloween pail is like wearing a sign to be egged, covered in shaving cream or hit with the dreaded Nairbomb (Google it). Bullet point #2 of the ghost pail: Whoa dude where did you pull that out from? :) Oh and for the record I loved Larry fine, the heart of the Stooges.

  15. I had the Goblin Bucket. I used it to hold my Monsters in My Pocket… it seemed appropriate. It might still be in my parents’ basement. I’ll have to check the next time I go home for a visit.

  16. Yep, I remember these!

  17. Really enjoyed this piece. Lots of nice phrasing throughout, and “We all have our tokens of times long expired” really struck true, and actually made me feel more than a little sentimental, bringing to mind some of my own tokens and long ago times.

  18. This was a touching tale. I want my own Ghost Snickers Pail

  19. Those are awesome. I’m surprised I don’t remember them. We may not have bought enough candy; Cape May was not a big trick-or-treating destination then. I doubt we would have carried them around, either. My mother, an expert seamstress, made the bags we used for trick-or-treating in the late 80s. For all I know, my nephews may still use them.

  20. I never had these, but I’ll agree that Goblin Bucket is superior. I’d peg him as the Starscream of this motley crew. He’s just waiting for his chance to usurp Pumpkin Bucket.

  21. I ever so vaguely remember these mostly the ghost one. I think I was sad when I saw them because the really awesome boo buckets had already been discontinued or something to that effect. I just know I relate sadness to these buckets for some odd unknown reason.

  22. I cannot help but commend you all for totally glossing over and not mentioning what that ghost looks exactly like, not even obliquely.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have that sort of self control, and that’s all you guys will be able to see when you look at it now. Someone needs to airbrush some veins on that abomination, STAT.

  23. Pickle Goblin?

  24. I was but a few weeks-old infant when Matt was chatting up Goblin Bucket, so these are before my time, sadly. I did have a few McBoo pails, though, and at least one of them was a crayon holder at one point.

    My favorite trick-or-treat container was a big bag with a skull on the front. He had light-up eyes, so he was both cool AND fulfilled the “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD BE CAREFUL AND DON’T GET RUN OVER” segment of Halloween trick-or-treat rules. I used Skull Bag throughout the mid-90s until I was 11 – my last year trick-or-treating. Skull Bag is still intact in my Shed Fulla Crap, and I think if I gave him fresh batteries he might still be able to light up just like old times.

  25. @Juge: I was thinking it. It’s the lid.

  26. I’m too young to remember these, but I have to say I LOVE the ghost one! I’m not too big of a fan of Goblin, TBH, I think his face is too small for his head.

  27. I had the ghost pail as a kid. I think when I was 3 or 4 I saw it at the Salvation Army and begged my mom to pay the quarter for it and for once in my childhood life she relented (I’m making her overly fascist, she was pretty awesome once we finally had a steady income about those things) I used it as a legos bin. You’ll never be cooler than when you’re seven and go to your friends house and can keep all your legos in a fucking ghost (and then subsequently guard them with your life because little kids will murder for a chance to get special lego pieces like the spring axles from the outback set or jetpacks or propeller packs) I then distinctly remember using it as a holder of duplicate pokemon cards as well. The good old days I tell ya. The good old days.

    OH BTW! Matt, did you know if you google McBoo Pail or McDonald’s Pails, X-E is still the top hit? Yeah I figured you’d be proud about that…

  28. I was totally obsessed with Tacky Stretchoid Warriors the second I saw the commercial. The plot was the bad guys wanted to turn Earth into an intergalactic mall. Gasp!

    By the time I got my mom to take me to Toys R Us (the only place that sold them), they were on clearance so I was able to buy two. They were heaven for at least a couple days.

  29. I had the ghost since that release date until last year. When I sold my house, I forced myself to part with many things, and that was one. However I simply went outside and hung it on a tree branch. I drove my my old house recently and the new owners still hadn’t bothered to take it down. I was in the front yard near the street too. Heck, I should go see if it’s still there today and take it back since Matt validated its existence.

  30. Wow! I haven’t thought about these in a long time! I only remember having the ghost one(Juge – it does look like a ****). Definitely right up there with the McBoo pails(McBoo pails are superior though).

    Tacky Stretchoid Warriors were awesome! My brother and I had only one of these each(they didn’t last very long). I can remember getting them at McCrory’s, as we did with lots of toys back in the day. But the prices for these things(in the package), are insane! But that’s only because they were the type of toy that just didn’t last. They were basically big sticky hands with removable plastic clothes. They were pretty sweet though.

  31. Snickers ghost was the best. I always loved twisting off his oft-kilter head and use it as a candy platter. That ghosty also carried a megaton of candy.

  32. The Snicker’s bucket is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen that may or may not have destroyed a child’s thumb. I’m sure that as a child, Mr. Ghost would have heard all my deepest secrets during sleepovers.

  33. AH, trick or treat buckets! Other than remembering the old McD’s one’s, I don’t recall these. I remember being so poor we used PAPER BAGS one year! I can remember that….but not who I dressed as, might be for the best!

  34. The Ghost Bucket looks like it is in mid “awe shucks”.

  35. It’s funny my best friend dressed up as Casper for many years as a kid trick or treating. His mother was cheap and refused to buy another costume for him. It was the mask and smock type deal.

    I have never seen these before. But I would definitely get one if I saw it at Goodwill. I saw one of the newer mcpails there a few weeks ago. The kind you put stickers on.

  36. I absolutely love these. Had I had them, I would have felt exactly as you did.

    Frankly like so many things, I may have to collect them someday.

    Of course the Pumpkin wins for me, because my jack 0′lantern obsession, but as a kid, that goblin would have certainly fought my Centurions & Skulk the Sektaur

  37. I remember these. I remember thinking the green one was a living booger and wanting the ghost one -because I’m a Halloween purist and boogers are year round- but because there was the McDonald’s pails, never getting one.

  38. I totally forgot that I had the ghost bucket as a kid! I loved that fucking bucket!

  39. We’ve had that ghost bucket for as long as I can remember (probably because I was born in 1989, but uh) and I’ve always adored him. I don’t ever remember him having the Snickers sticker…my mom probably peeled it off because he was always displayed amongst our other Halloween stuff every year.

    No real point to this post, I’m just excited to see him and now know where he came from. Aww yeah.

  40. My wife still has her goblin bucket!!! We put it out on display every Halloween. Love that thing. What an awesome thing to find on here!

  41. I’ve been hunting these down myself after having them as a kid. They’re so cute!

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